The more things change the more they stay the same; it’s an old clichéd adage but when speaking about photography in the twenty-first century it probably could not be more true. Since the invention of digital photography in 1975, ithas become both utilitarian and ubiquitous. In 2013, one study cited that close to 30,000 photos were uploaded to Instagram every minute and close to 210,000 photos were uploaded to Facebook per minute. In all, nearly six billion photographs created in just one months’ time across two platforms. Therefore, it might be said that the most prescient question for modern day photo based artists is this: Is it possible for a single image to rise above the din of millions and millions of photographers and photographs?
Using a variety of old and new technologies, each of the artists presented makes the case for a resounding “Yes! It is possible!”
Ye Fan’s work explores the complexities of the photographic print through luxuriously detailed prints. Fan captures the richness of the dimly lit urban landscape. Her prints detail the lushness of the color black and evoke a sense of mystery, longing, and the dull ache of a wish for morning light.
Jeanne Finley investigates the idea of chance through digital manipulation. With each keystroke Finley simulatesthe magic of the wet darkroom. With a dash of saturation here and a stroke of embossing there, Finley’s water landscapes become an ode to an unseen almost alien world.
George Guarino creates abstract digital assemblages. His imagery harkens back to the first days of photographic surrealism and film manipulation. Through the use of modern imaging and editing technology, more than images, Guarino conjures photographic realms andtemporal palaces for our minds to sense and feel.
Jossalynn Harris’ work is a meditation on what it means to be without a physical space or place to call home. Blending both sculpture and photographic elements, we are taken on a journey from one place to another.
Michael Lagerman studies the relationship between the camera and the landscape itself. Utilizing digital zone plate photography, Lagerman captures the dynamic interplay between the camera and the outer world just beyond the lens.
Victoria Manning uses photography as an act of remembrance. She connects the past and the present through the chemical processes of photography, creating beauty out of implements of destruction and war.
Julie O’Connor melds old and new to fashion surreal, multi-layered scenes. Her work starts with an idea that exists in her mind, andthis idea is then transmitted or captured initially by the camera and is fully realized through the magic of modern photographic editing software. These digital landscapes could not exist without elements of both traditional and modern photography techniques.
Lastly, by contextualizing the lush landscapes of Hawaii as they might look without the hand of humanity, Leah Schretenthaler’s images are works of subtraction. She plays with our sense of what is real and what can be imagined by challenging us to see and not see at the same time. What emerges is a land before our time, a land unsullied by human touch.
Although working independently of one another, each artists’ work shares the concurrent longing to arrest their intellect in favor of a deeply held sense of place or an impression of a moment felt at one time or another. In closing, looking ever closely and thoughtfully, we find the ever present, and perhaps unconscious concern for humanity and humanity’s impression upon the landscape and our collective psyche. The imagery, whether created in camera, by digital manipulation or by the re-imagining of older photographic technologies speaks to the timeless nature of the interpretations and ruminations of artists themselves.